REVIEW: "Book Of Bad Decisions" By CLUTCH
Stoner Rock, Blues Rock/Weathermaker Music/Released Sept 7, 2018
Clutch are an interesting band to look at when you talk about popularity. They've been in the game for nearly 30 years now and are twelve albums deep. Started on indie labels, had a stint on major labels which gave a quick boost of mainstream popularity, and are now owners of their own label. Rarely have heard anyone say a negative about their music and are seemingly every metalhead's favorite rock band. But only recently it seems that they're a band that's been on a lot of people's lips.
A big reason for that enduring respect comes from consistency. They've never really had a bad album. And despite not changing their sound too much over the years, their style is a signature one. The bluesy and psychedelic riffs of Tim Sult have been a winning combination with Neil Fallon's theatrical, southern preacher style singing and eclectic lyrics. While you generally know what you're going to get with Clutch, they still haven't lost their luster.
Their previous album, Psychic Warfare, was particularly praised and has given the band a lot of momentum recently. And new album Book Of Bad Decisions is sure to keep that momentum going as it feels stronger than its predecessor. There's much in the way of high energy, raucous tracks that the band make their name on. But the slower tracks feel just as strong this time around.
"Gimme The Keys" is a particular bluesy intro with its start and stop dynamic that has a strong build going into its chorus. "Weird Times" is one of the most high energy tracks of the album with a strong percussive performance from Jean-Paul Gaster that includes beating the ever living daylights out of a cowbell. "Hot Bottom Feeder" is a peculiar track lyrically even for Clutch. The song is essentially a recipe for crab cakes laid upon a musical bed of southern-bred guitar, pedal steel, and once again, plenty of cowbell.
With the more laid back tracks "Emily Dickinson" is a stand out. Fallon gives one of his strongest vocal performances of the album along with imagery filled lyrics. The track is another one of the southern-rock-leaning ones with a ballad vibe. And is highlighted with a spacey guitar solo for an outro. Closing track "Lorelei" is another favorite that balances its loud guitar choruses with slow, atmospheric verses. The slow marching rhythm of the drums and spacey guitar effects make for a strong contrast that build anticipation for the straightforward rock of the chorus.
With the creative and business freedom Clutch has had with their three most recent albums it feels like their music has been getting progressively stronger. Since the band has been releasing music on their own label, Book Of Bad Decisions is their strongest. It's a record that captures their core sound and eclectic nature and will please their longtime fans while being a great introduction to newcomers. For a band that is always facing high expectations they continue to deliver without fail.